Soft Chewy Caramels

Let's talk caramels. The candy kind. The chewy, melt-in-your-mouth, deeply sweet, and insanely addictive kind. These make some of the best gifts ever. You probably already have the ingredients in your pantry, and if you haven't made caramels recently, you probably don't know how easy they can be. Grab a bag of sugar and your candy thermometer, folks! We're making caramels today.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Preparation

  1. Prepare the pan:  Line an 8 x 8 tempered glass or metal baking pan with parchment, so the excess paper hangs over the edges.  (Quick Trick…crumble parchment paper into a ball, then run under running water.  Really squeeze out excess water, then lay parchment in pan.)  Spray the parchment and sides of the pan with non-stick spray. (You may need to dab off excess water with a paper towel before spraying.)
  2. Melt the butter in the cream:  Over medium heat, in a heavy 2-qt saucepan, warm the cream, butter and salt until the butter melts.  Remove from heat, but keep the butter close by.
  3. Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water:  In the larger 4-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir until the sugar is evenly moistened and you form a thick grainy paste. Wipe down the sides of the pan with a damp pastry brush so there are no sugar crystals above the surface of the sugar mixture. Clip the instant-read thermometer to the side of the pan so that the heat sensor is immersed in the sugar. Do not stir the sugar after this point.Note: The large saucepan is necessary because the sugar will bubble up and triple in size when you add the cream. Do not substitute a smaller pan.
  4. Cook the sugar syrup: Place the pot with the sugar mixture over medium to medium-high heat. Let the sugar syrup come to a boil without stirring. At first, you will see small bubbles around the edge of the pan, which will eventually move inward. Around 250°F, the sugar syrup will turn transparent and boil rapidly. Around 320°F, the syrup will darken slightly and smell caramel-like. You can proceed to the next step any time after the syrup reaches 250°F and before it reaches 325°F.Note: If your instant-read thermometer isn’t quite submerged into the sugar, you may need to tilt the pan to get an accurate reading. Simply tilt the pan by the handle until the thermometer is submerged a few inches in the sugar syrup. If the syrup hasn’t reached 250°, wipe down the sides with a pastry brush again. If it has, there’s no need.
  5. Whisk In The Cream and Butter:  Turn off the heat under the sugar syrup. Slowly pour the warm cream and butter mixture into the sugar syrup while whisking the sugar syrup gently. The sugar syrup will bubble up and triple in size. Stop whisking once all the milk and butter mixture has been added.
  6. Heat the caramel to 245°F – 250°F. Return the pan to medium to medium-high heat. Let the caramel come to a boil without stirring. It will start off as a soft buttery yellow and eventually darken to reddish-brown caramel. Remove from heat when the caramel reaches 245°F to 250°F.
  7. Whisk in the Vanilla:  Quickly whisk the vanilla into the caramel.
  8. Pour the caramels into the pan:  Immediately pour the caramels into the prepared pan. Do not scrape the pan (there are sometimes hard burnt bits on the bottom). Knock the pan agains the counter a few times to help air bubbles work their way out.
  9. Let the caramels set:  Set the caramels somewhere out of the way to set, for at least two hours or (ideally) overnight. Once the caramels have cooled to room temperature, you can cover the pan.
  10. Cut the caramels:  When the caramels have set, lift them out of the pan by the parchment paper flaps and onto a cutting board. Cut the caramels into candies with a very sharp knife about 1/2 inch wide x 2 inches long (you should get about 4 caramels per strip.) If the caramels stick to your knife, spray your knife with nonstick cooking spray.
  11. Wrap the caramels in wax paper. Cut squares of wax paper a little longer than your caramels. Wrap each caramel in wax paper and twist the ends closed. Caramels will keep at room temperature for about two weeks.

Softer Caramels:  This recipe makes fairly firm, chewy caramels.  If you like them to be more taffy-like add an extra 1/4 cup of whipping (heavy) cream.

Salted Caramels:  Add 2 tsp of salt to the recipe at the beginning and sprinkle caramels with course Maldon Salt while firming up in the pan.

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A Word About Candy Thermometers:  It’s very important to use a candy thermometer when candy-making.  The temperature gauge on these types of thermometers is different than the ones on a meat thermometer and it goes up much higher.  They also have a clip so that they can attach to the side of your pan, making the hands-free option very handy. ($4.99 -$44.99)


Servings

Makes 55


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